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Mattel Loses Trademark Suit Over 'Barbie' Song

July 25, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Mattel Inc.'s trademark for Barbie wasn't infringed by a MCA Records Inc. song called "Barbie Doll," which poked fun at the world's biggest toy maker's blond creation, an appellate court ruled.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the use of the word "Barbie" in the song title was an artistic expression designed to attract consumers.

The suit tested Mattel's ability to control depictions of a toy that has become a cultural icon. Mattel said the song's lyrics, laced with sexual innuendo, would harm the value of its Barbie trademark.

"With fame often comes unwanted attention," wrote Judge Alex Kozinksi in an opinion published Wednesday.

A spokesman for Mattel couldn't be reached for comment.

The El Segundo-based toy maker sued MCA, a unit of Vivendi Universal, and other record labels that produced and distributed a 1997 album by the Danish band Aqua containing the song "Barbie Girl."

A district court sided with MCA, saying the song was a parody.

MCA Records President Jay Boberg said, "This ruling was important for MCA Records as it affirms our artists' rights to express themselves freely."

Mattel and MCA officials traded barbs in the media after the original lawsuit was filed. MCA countersued for defamation, after Mattel said using the term Barbie in the song was akin to theft.

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